With names being linked to Liverpool FC left, right and centre we thought we’d look at two interesting names that are causing a lot of debate on Twitter. Two of the players linked are young England internationals with a lot of promise and have experience of playing at the highest level already: Theo Walcott and Daniel Sturridge.
Both players linked have come through academies at Southampton and Manchester City and then moved onto London clubs – Walcott commanding a fee whilst Sturridge move for free. Both players seem to want to move on from their current clubs and were linked in swap deal earlier in the year however both are now linked to Liverpool Football Club. As is usual we wanted to see how they compare to what Liverpool now have so we’ve compared Walcott to Downing (both players can play on either wing) and Sturridge to Suarez (both can play as a wide forward and centre forward).
Walcott compared to Downing
The stats immediately show that both these players are totally different types of wingers. We would have compared Raheem Sterling but he hasn’t played enough games to warrant any sort of stats comparison. Maybe at the end of the year we will pick up on Sterling’s stats and begin to compare him to other wingers in the Premier League. Looking at the numbers below you can see that Downing is more of a creative winger whilst Walcott is a more direct attacking wide forward. We don’t really have many wide forwards at Liverpool to compare Walcott as Bellamy, Maxi and Kuyt have all left the club, but even they were different to Walcott.
Downing’s winger attributes are shown as his crossing frequency is higher and that he creates more often than Walcott whilst at the same time Downing rarely loses the ball in the final third with an impressive 82% pass accuracy. Walcott’s directness is illustrated by his dribble statistics. He attempts to take on a player about every 27 minutes whilst Downing is not far from doubling that statistic. Walcott also shoots a lot more often and hits the target more often. The goals tally speak for themselves too as Walcott averages a goal every 343 minutes compared to Downing’s infinite statistic – no goals in the Premier League for Liverpool.
Now Liverpool have tried the “winger” type player – should they now go for a player that is more direct, will take on players and get into positions to score more goals?
What was Downing like at Villa in 2010/11? His stats were surely better that year as he got seven assists and seven goals that season. How about we compare his stats from 2010/11 to Walcott last year at Arsenal?
There are a few changes in the numbers from 2010/11 and one of them is that Downing’s ball retention in the final third was worse at Aston Villa in 2010/11. He seemed to create a lot more frequently at Villa but he took a lot more dead ball set pieces there. He also created a staggering 19 clear-cut chances whilst at Villa in comparison to his 11 at Liverpool. We must note that he did play a considerable amount more in 2010/11 (900 more minutes) but the stats are divided by minutes so there is a fair representation here.
Is there a fear that Walcott would do the same as Downing and not perform at Liverpool? I suppose that fear is there for every player but the question here is more about whether Liverpool require more direct players than what we currently have? I think the answer to that is YES they do require more direct players under Brendan Rodgers’ new system with pace but is Walcott the answer? I’m not so sure.
Sturridge and Suarez Comparison
Both Sturridge and Suarez scored 11 goals last season for their respective clubs but Sturridge scored more often and did this whilst playing more as a wide forward whilst Luis Suarez was predominantly played as a striker for the most of last season. What would Sturridge’s return have been like had he been deployed up top more often for Chelsea? The attacking stats for both players are below:
Luis Suarez shoots more often and hits the target more often than Sturridge but scores less frequently which will lead to then next stat: chance conversion. Daniel Sturridge converted 6 clear-cut chances out of 16 (38%) whilst Suarez only converted 25% of his 28. Sturridge’s stats don’t really impress me here with a 6/16 conversion, it’s not the best although better than Suarez’s. Sturridge’s overall chance conversion is also better than Suarez’s although that cannot be hard to do as Suarez had one of the worst chance conversion percentages in the league for strikers.
What Suarez does have in his favour is his ability to create chances. Sturridge is a lot more selfish and will want to shoot himself rather than play in a team mate? Is this such a bad trait? Whilst very annoying at times it can also be taken as a positive. Given regular games Sturridge could definitely improve upon what we’ve seen of him so far and he was Chelsea’s most impressive player in the short Villas Boas era. Could he really thrive under Brendan Rodgers’ new Liverpool?
More questions than answers
We’ve ended up coming out of this short comparison with more questions rather than answers. Both players linked are not massive improvements on the squad statistically but what they do give you is a directness that seems to be lacking at Liverpool. Currently there is not much pace in the attacking areas. Whilst completing deals for both Sturridge and Walcott would definitely improve Liverpool’s attacking abilities are they worth a combined outlay of around £27m (£15m for Sturridge & £12m for Walcott)? Liverpool fans let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!
All of the stats from this article have been taken from the Opta Stats Centre at EPLIndex.com – Subscribe Now (Includes author privileges!) Check out our new Top Stats feature on the Stats Centre which allows you to compare all players in the league & read about new additions to the stats centre.